Author Topic: How to "till" and be no-till  (Read 540 times)

Offline rendok

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How to "till" and be no-till
« on: April 11, 2019, 02:51:24 AM »
I have winter rye planted over two separate beds. The rye is tall, bright green, nitrogen rich, and ready to start giving it back up to my summer garden.

In one of the beds, I am about to create a 2-3ft raised hugulkultur bed.  I will be digging out the soil in which it's planted to lay down the wood. I will also be filling the bed with topsoil/planting mix. The existing soil will be thrown into the beds as well. This one is easy, but if anyone has advice on where in the bed I should put back the existing soil I'd appreciate the advice.

In the other bed, it is going to remain at ground level (with a little mulch on top). I want to get the rye into the ground but I don't want to tear up the bed unless I have to. How to you get the rye or other cover crop into the ground so it can do what it was intended to do?

Looking forward to the help I know you guys can provide.

Offline bigbear

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Re: How to "till" and be no-till
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2019, 08:11:28 AM »
For the hugel bed, I'd put the existing soil back on top.  But I don't think it really matters though.  Ultimately, it'll find it's own balance of soil life over time.

For the other bed, I'd till the first year just to loosen the soil quicker than building it up over time (i.e. the years it takes to happen in a forest).  If you go that path, till in the rye.  I get that it messes with the sub-soil life, but I think the benefits of loose soil/time/water retention/nutrients outweigh the downside.  Plus, you're "tilling" the hugel bed by digging it out and refilling it with looser soil (and adding the nutrients). 

If you want to stay true to the no-till method, then chop/drop but then cover with a couple inches of compost/manure and then a couple more inches of wood chips.  I'd repeat this process next year as well.  Then in a few years you'll have a few inches of compost/manure to work with and the chips will have started to breakdown as well.

Offline Skunkeye

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Re: How to "till" and be no-till
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2019, 10:15:51 PM »
For the non-hugel bed, you could use the "lasagna" method, covering the area with cardboard, wetting the cardboard thoroughly, then putting compost and mulch on top of the cardboard (at least 2-3 inches of each).  Then just poke holes in the cardboard and plant into the soil beneath.  The cardboard will smother the grass, which will decompose into the soil, and the cardboard will disintegrate over the course of a few months, further feeding the soil.